What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech?
Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is a neurological childhood speech disorder in which difficulty with timing and coordination of the lips, tongue, and jaw affect the precision and consistency of the movement sequences underlying speech sound production.
Children with CAS exhibit speech production that is characterized by the following:
- Inconsistent errors on consonants and vowels in repetition (child says the word accurately, but cannot repeat it without errors)
- Lengthened and disrupted transitions between sounds and syllables (groping movement)
- Inappropriate prosody (intonation)
A CAS evaluation includes assessing the movement patterns of speech in addition to general evaluation of receptive and expressive language skills.
Treatment for CAS should utilize a motor-programming approach, including many repetitions of speech movements to help the child acquire skills to accurately, consistently, and automatically produce sequences of speech sounds.
The goal of treatment is to help the child achieve their highest level of intelligibility (i.e., how well their speech is understood by another listener) and comprehensibility in conversation (i.e., how well they are understood overall).
When CAS is severe, we can consider augmentative communication as part of the treatment plan.